In California yesterday, Apple announced its first step into the wearable tech market with the Apple Watch.
The wrist-bound device has both a touchscreen and rotating “digital crown” that helps you to navigate on the device. It’s also packed with a heart rate sensor as well as a pedometer, making it Apple’s debut into tracking your health, and providing its own HealthKit software with data about you.
The Apple Watch will cost $349 when released in early 2015, and come in three different stylings.
There’s no pricing available for the exercise-oriented Apple Watch Sport or the high-fashion Apple Watch Edition.
Instead of a one-watch-fits-all approach like many Android Wear smartwatches, Apple is releasing its Watch in two sizes: 38 millimeters and 42 millimeters.
The smaller one, of course, is for daintier wrists, though the size difference isn’t too vast.
As far as interacting with the device, Apple designed a new interaction method akin to the click wheel. It’s called the “Digital Crown,” named after the actual crown on most classic watches. Spinning the dial causes the Watch to zoom in or out, or scroll through options on the menu. You can press the crown to go back to the Watch’s home screen. There’s a secondary button next to the crown as well.
Apple Watch also features Siri integration. “Hey, Siri” lets you interact with Apple’s personal assistant and send messages or check the weather, among other things.
Apple Watch packs real groundbreaking features into its display. The Watch has a full-color retina display, Apple’s lingo for a high- resolution screen. In addition, it’s covered with sapphire, a glass Apple says is second in durability only to diamond.
The screen gets more advanced the deeper you go. In addition to being touch-sensitive, it’s also pressure-sensitive. Force Touch is Apple’s way of adding more interaction to such a small device by letting harder presses lead to different contextual actions.
On the underside of the Apple Watch is a heart rate sensor, designed for tracking your heart rate during exercise (or whenever you want). There’s also a “Taptic Engine,” which is a haptic feedback system. When your Watch gets a notification, it will simulate a tap on the wrist. Through the Taptic Engine, you can send messages to friends that include your own heartbeat.
The Apple Watch comes in three materials: stainless steel, aluminum, and 18-karat gold. Both the stainless steel and aluminum variants come in silver and a darker gray finish, while the gold Watch comes in either yellow or rose gold, a decidedly more fashionable approach.
Apple showed off a multitude of watch bands during its debut, including rubberized watch bands designed to handle exercise. Bands like the link bracelet give off a more professional, business-centric vibe, while the Milanese loop is a more fashion-conscious design.
Apple sidestepped mentioning battery life, but did manage to show off its charging solution, inspired by its MacBook laptops. Instead of a USB port with a cable sticking out of it, Apple’s Watch uses a small magnetic connector that snaps to the underside of the device.
The device is set to appear in early 2015, so Apple could make advances in battery technology before it’s released, but if Apple’s presentation is any indication, the company would have boasted if it were any good.